Intermittent fasting, nappuccinos, and thermal shock: How the CEO of Eight Sleep stays energized and mentally sharp
Today’s CEOs are facing innumerable challenges: a global pandemic and a sea change in how and where employees want to show up for work, just to name a few. For leaders, the pressure has never been higher. How do they mitigate it? In our new series, we ask executives about their day-to-day wellness habits to gain insight into the tactics they use to minimize stress and maintain their well-being.
Matteo Franceschetti is cofounder and CEO of Eight Sleep, the New York–based sleep fitness company using A.I. to turn the bed into a seamless health platform for improved health, performance, and longevity.
Coffee or tea? And what do you put in it?
I drink coffee in the morning—espresso exclusively. Later in the morning, I drink hot Earl Grey tea with lemon. During the weekend I like to drink a nappuccino—I’ll have an espresso shot before a short nap to wake up feeling energized and mentally sharp.
What is your go-to breakfast?
I usually do not eat breakfast. I have found that doing intermittent fasting works really well for me, giving me more energy and focus while also improving digestion. During the weekdays, I will fast for anywhere from 13 to 20 hours and eat during a window for dinner, which will be my big meal of the day. On the weekends, I follow a 16:8 intermittent fasting ratio, where I’m fasting for 16 hours and consuming all of my food in an eight-hour window from noon till 8 p.m.
Tell us about your workout routine.
I’m an avid tennis player, I started playing and competing at a young age back in Italy. Now living in Miami, the year-round sun allows me to play it two to four times a week. I also work out of my home here, where I have a Peloton bike and treadmill, as well as a Tonal, free weights, and a sauna. My most recent purchase for the home gym is a Technogym Unica, a device I had been eyeing for a long time.
How many hours do you sleep on a typical night?
I go to bed around 9:30 p.m. and wake up around 6:30 a.m. every day, even on the weekends, getting nine hours of sleep a night. I use our Eight Sleep Pod to optimize my sleep. It helps me to fall asleep faster and keeps me in deep sleep longer through the bed’s thermoregulation technology.
Two hours before bed I will practice thermal shock, which has been great for my sleep. By exposing myself to extreme heat through the sauna or a hot bath, followed by extreme cold via an ice bath or cold shower. Hot/cold exposure not only helps reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and aid in muscle recovery, but it also improves my sleep dramatically. Going from a 145℉ environment to a 40℉ helps stimulate blood flow and puts my natural bodily responses to work, preparing me for restful sleep.
I also will practice mobility exercises around 9 p.m. and will utilize wellness technology devices, such as the Hypervolt percussion massage gun and the Normatec air compression boots from Hyperice at least a couple of times a week.
Finally, I have lights that begin gradually dimming around 7 p.m. throughout the house, giving off softer orange hues which help prepare me for sleep.
How do you de-stress?
Physical activity is really important to me. I’ve learned it helps me de-stress and also energizes me. I’ve always been into sports, so I enjoy these activities. I also enjoy motorsports, so whenever I can I go down to the Homestead circuit in South Florida and race with karts or cars. It’s a great way to keep my mind off the usual things, as there’s no way I can think about a work project when I’m going around a track curve at 100 mph.
According to your phone, what’s your daily average screen time from last week?
Twelve hours, eight minutes. I try to minimize my screen time closer to night and also use Philips Hue lights that are orange to help me reduce any blue light before bed.
What app do you use the most?
Slack because of work. While I’m based in Miami, we have team members spread across the country at our New York and San Francisco offices, as well as remote employees and ones that are internationally based. Slack allows us to remain in communication in real time to discuss all facets of the business.
When’s the last time you took a day off? What did you do?
I usually work on Sunday afternoons, to prepare for my week and get ahead of any key things coming up. But this past Sunday I decided not to do any formal work. Instead, I spent the day doing what I describe as active recovery: enjoying activities that energize me, investing in my health and relationships, which can give me new ideas or perspectives for my work. This includes reading, catching up on podcasts, playing tennis, and playing in the pool to get some sun. My wife and I work together at Eight Sleep, as we cofounded the business. So even when we take time off, we can have conversations about the brand, the business opportunities, and the product, in a more relaxed context such as when we’re walking the dog around the neighborhood.
What’s one thing your company is doing to prioritize employee wellness?
Everyone in our company receives an Eight Sleep Pod for free, as a way for us to invest in their well-being through sleep fitness. We don’t shy away from asking each other how we sleep and making sure we are all prioritizing this recovery time so that we can bring our best game to the working hours.
What’s your favorite treat?
I decided to begin to follow a keto diet and have done so for many years. I tried keto after noticing that carbs cause me to have inflammation and low energy levels. Now I practice fasting and keto because it keeps me at peak energy levels. All that to say, I still will have one Italian meal on occasion—it’s in my blood and I will never be able to let go of that completely.
Show us a photo of your happy place.